Portable Appliance Testing (or PAT testing for short) is an undeniably important skill for electricians – but did you know that businesses are always on the lookout for PAT testers, too?
Gaining your stripes as a PAT tester could help you to start earning money by offering businesses a convenient service that allows them to ensure their electronics are all maintained and safe to use.
At such a tumultuous time for the economy, there are plenty of people out there who could do with a backup plan or a side hustle . Here’s our guide to becoming a PAT tester and earning a little extra money from keeping electronics safe and certified.
PAT Testing 101
As we’ve explained, PAT testing involves checking that electronic devices are safe to use and that they’ve been properly maintained. Figures from the Health & Safety Executive show that around 25% of all recovered electrical accidents involved portable devices, and that lays the basis for why PAT testing can be such a lucrative business.
Employers have a legal responsibility under the Electricity at Work Regulations to keep those on their premises safe, and they must take reasonable steps to prevent any danger arising from the use of portable appliances.
Further developing this responsibility, the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 places an obligation on employers to conduct systematic maintenance, inspection, and testing. This duty arises in circumstances where portable appliances are used by employees, or where the public uses portable appliances in the course of their dealings with a business.
The duty even applies where appliances are supplied or hired out to others, and so it’s easy to see why so many businesses fall under the legal framework.
Who can conduct PAT testing?
PAT testing is governed by the standards explained in the Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment. This document is published by the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and effectively states that the work must be conducted by people who have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to prevent danger to themselves and others.
In many cases, PAT testing is conducted by an electrician, but there are also plenty of people out there who have completed the necessary educational courses and now provide the service to their own organisation or as a business.
What does PAT testing involve?
To recap, PAT testing involves checking electrical appliances to ensure that they are safe, and comprises a series of electronic tests and visual inspections.
The ultimate aim of the game is to establish that portable devices are safe and suitable for the way in which they are being used. This means that the competent person conducting the testing will carry out a visual inspection of the appliance itself, along with its plug and lead. For certain kinds of equipment they may also conduct electronic signal testing to ensure that the cable and appliance are safe on an internal level.
Once the process has been completed, the inspecting party should provide their client with a report. This in itself can be a fairly comprehensive task as the report must provide full details of the appliances tested, their type, name, location, description, PAT testing results, and an explanation of any failures.
On top of this, PAT testers need to have sharp admin skills and must place a visible pass or fail sticker on each device tested. This confirms the inspection date and also details when another is due.
Perhaps the most significant task is to explain the process and any faults or failures to people who are less technically aware. This is why it’s so important for PAT testers to have a working knowledge of electronics that goes beyond the bare minimum of providing inspection services.
How much can you earn from PAT testing?
The PAT testing industry has become more competitive in recent years, but it’s still entirely possible to make very good margins by providing the service. Qualified PAT testing engineers can expect to charge around £1 per appliance tested – but you shouldn’t be put off by that low figure. Many businesses require tens, hundreds, or even thousands of appliances to be tested and so it won’t be long before those pounds start adding up.
There are two clear solutions to falling prices in the PAT testing industry. Firstly, you can offer yourself out at a premium rate for a premium service. As the prices fall across major PAT testing providers, so too do standards as practitioners are forced to cut corners to keep their margins high. By pitching yourself as a belt and braces premium provider, you could corner the safety-conscious end of the market and charge higher rates.
Secondly, you could also try to enter into ongoing agreements with large corporations and office buildings. These are areas where PAT testing is a real undertaking, and so you could even offer package deals rather than charging per item.
All in all, it’s still possible to make good money from PAT testing.
How to become a PAT tester
It may help, but you don’t actually need to be a qualified electrician to be a PAT tester. Instead, you just have to be deemed competent to conduct the necessary testing procedures. The simplest way to start PAT testing is to take a training course and be presented with a Certificate of Competency.
There are lots of institutions offering these courses, and prices range between around £40 for an online course through to several hundred for a more in-depth training session. These costs can be concerning given that it’s far from certain that you’ll pick up work in the current climate, but it’s easy to spread the sum by getting short term loans online that direct lenders offer for to pay for educational courses of this kind.
Earn money from PAT testing
In summary, PAT testing is an undertaking that legally requires businesses to guarantee the safety of their portable appliances. You don’t need to be an electrician to conduct this kind of testing, and just a small investment in yourself could lead to greater returns from PAT testing clients in the future.